Chelsea Football Club have today completed the signing of Nemanja Matic from Benfica.
On signing his five-and-a-half-year contract, the 25-year-old said: ‘I am very happy for this opportunity to be back at this club. I feel very good because of that and just want to say I will give my best to help the team and make the Chelsea fans happy.’
Jose Mourinho added: ‘I am very pleased that Nemanja is returning to Chelsea. He has grown as a player in Portugal and has become a fantastic all-round midfielder. I am sure he will become a very important member of the squad and help us to achieve our ambitions.’
The Serbian midfielder, who will wear the number 21 shirt, returns for a second spell at Stamford Bridge, having previously represented the Blues after joining from MSK Kosice in 2009. He made three substitute appearances in the 2009/10 season and departed in January 2011 as part of the deal which brought David Luiz, one of the most coveted players in Europe, from Benfica to London.
Matic made his Chelsea debut aged 21 during a 4-0 league victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers, and also featured in our final-day 8-0 win over Wigan Athletic in 2010 which saw us clinch the title.
In August 2010, he went on a season-long loan to Vitesse Arnhem to gain more first-team experience and although the transfer to Benfica was agreed mid-season, Vitesse retained his services for the remainder of that campaign.
The 6ft 4in, left-footed player made his debut for the Portuguese club as a late substitute in a 2-1 win over Vitoria Guimaraes at the start of the 2011/12 campaign, and with the benefit of regular first-team appearances, his game matured.
Composed, comfortable in possession and with a good range of passing, he scored his first goal for the Lisbon club during a 4-1 win against Vitoria Setubal in January 2012, and acquired valuable Champions League experience, including games against Chelsea in both legs of the quarter-final on our way to winning the competition.
While his first season at the club was a solid one, the 2012/13 campaign saw Matic flourish. With Javi Garcia departing for Manchester City, he became a formidable presence in the centre of midfield, impressing to such an extent he was named Portuguese Player of the Month on three occasions.
He also added more goals to his game and a stunning volley in a 2-2 draw against Porto was this week voted second in FIFA’s Puskas Award for the best goal scored anywhere in the world in 2013. He also netted the winner as Benfica beat Bayer Leverkusen in the second leg of their round of 32 Europa League clash.
Matic played in all but one of Benfica’s matches as they progressed to last season’s Europa League final, where they were beaten by Chelsea in Amsterdam.
They were also pipped to the Portuguese title by Porto, with a solitary point separating the two big rivals, but on a personal note, the season ended in a memorable manner for the Serbian when he was named Primeira Liga Player of the Year.
The opportunity to play regularly for one of Europe’s biggest teams has undoubtedly aided Matic’s development over the last two seasons, and he continued to impress during the first half of the current campaign in Portugal where Benfica currently have a two-point lead at the top of the table.
His final appearance for Benfica came last Sunday, when he helped them to a 2-0 win over Porto.
Matic has earned international recognition with Serbia at youth and Under-21 level, and with the senior team for whom he has made nine appearances, the most recent a World Cup qualifier in October.